How to keep your dogs (and you) from going stir crazy in wintertime.
When winter’s cold weather is punctuated with seemingly endless bouts of heavy snow and pelting rain and we’re stuck indoors, it’s understandable that we start suffering from cabin fever. And, it’s no surprise that our dogs often feel the same way, too.
Getting outside is not only about bracing the cold for potty breaks, it’s important in keeping dogs well exercised. When the weather is such a challenge, it’s a good idea to introduce more walks in a day, each for a shorter time. This way, your pooch will get his normal exercise without being exposed to the elements for long periods. If you are lucky enough to have a pet-friendly indoor mall in your area, it is a great place to go for your daily exercise. Window-shopping never gets boring.
You can beat winter boredom and rev up your dog’s energy levels by playing indoor games at home, too. For ball-obsessed dogs, it’s all about the ball; not necessarily where the game is played. Let’s face it; such a dog will play fetch just about anywhere. It’s just a matter of remembering to roll the ball instead of throwing it in order to protect electronics and furniture. In addition, if you happen to live in a two-story home, you can add another level to the game by rolling the ball down the stairs.
Consider keeping a ball or a favorite plush toy handy when you are doing general housework and introducing games while you are doing chores. That way, not only will your dog be getting a good cardio workout, but you will be able to enjoy some quality time together, too.
Canine board games such as the Buster Activity Mat and puzzle toys such as those created by Nina Ottosson really challenge dogs and offer great mental and physical stimulation. Board games and puzzles involve hiding treats or small toys and allowing your dog to extricate them. In fact, behaviorists say that 10 minutes of such mental play is the equivalent of 45 minutes of active play.1
You can further extend the fun by setting up a treasure hunt of toys and treats around your home. This is an excellent idea to keep dogs engaged especially when they are home alone.
Another way to beat cabin fever and get your dog out of the house is by signing your pooch up for an indoor agility class or a freestyle doggie dancing class. This modern dog sport is a mixture of obedience training, tricks, and dance and allows for creative interaction between dogs and their owners. It’s becoming competitive too.
Dogs are very social creatures and no doubt, many would enjoy dog camp or doggie daycare sessions. This is another great cold weather alternative because apart from the organized play supervised by camp counselors, simply hanging with other dogs will ensure your pooch gets plenty of physical and mental stimulation.
In addition, don’t forget doggie play dates at another dog’s home. Canines enjoy new environments with a friend the same way kids do.
Source: 1. ABC 7
About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats